Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

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Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 28th October 2021

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿46 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿25 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.66 THB to one Philippine Peso

Rob

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 148,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

The vast majority of my income is from my salary. I also sell teaching resources on TES which is a nice little earner, bringing in a few thousand baht each month just from uploading a few resources I have made for classes. I also make a bit of dividend income from investments, but i haven't included that.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I'm pretty fortunate to be able to rent my house out in the UK so that ensures that most costs back home are covered. Most months I am able to put 60 - 70K away. That goes into a pension, a few individual stocks and a couple of index funds that tick away at 9 to 10% a year. I think it's quite important to invest the money rather than let inflation eat away at it.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 15,000 a month in a brand new condo that has just opened in my area. I have a great room, gym and pool. That is one of the best things about living in Bangkok, you get real value for money in terms of accommodation. It's very much a renters market so there is plenty of room for haggling.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

3,000 baht or thereabouts. I have a bike, E-scooter etc, but it's more convenient to car share when going to work, especially if you're not particularly an early riser!

Utility bills

About 2,500 baht a month. Water is about 500 plus 2,000 for the electricity. The totals have been a bit more in recent months though with remote teaching and not wanting to melt sat in front of a computer.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Around 10,000. For breakfast I go cheap and just get stuff like cereal, bread etc and lunch is very affordable at school. In the evening, it's nice to go out. Monday to Thursday, I do cheap Thai restaurants which are no more than 300 baht for me and my girlfriend. Then I'll have a couple of treat nights, which normally involve some good Western food or a decent restaurant at a shopping mall. I'm trying to cut this expense and have recently invested in a rice cooker to take advantage of some of the
good food you can pick up at markets.

Nightlife and drinking

My clubbing days are long gone but I do enjoy a beer after things like football, cricket, seeing friends etc, - so probably around 3,000 baht a month.

Books, computers

I have a work computer but I do buy the odd book for my Kindle. So around 1,000 baht a month.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Fantastic. I was working at a 6-day-a-week boarding school in the UK, having to do a full teacher timetable, sport and house duties. Bangkok is much better on so many levels. The work-life balance is great, as is the cost of living (especially if you are fortunate enough to get into a good international school). With the money you're able to put away here, it's quite feasible to knock 5 to 10 years off your retirement age if you save and invest your money wisely, all while living the dream and having a great time.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food. For me I think some of the best food here is the stuff you get by the side of the road or in small, Thai owned restaurants. 60 to 70 baht will normally get you something pretty delicious. Get your trainers on and do some exploring. Build up a good knowledge of restaurants in your local area.

The parks and communal spaces are great too. Things like cycle paths (the green lung), public parks such Nongbun and Rama 9 are free and great places to work out, go for a run, walk etc. The same can be said for sport. It's worth trying to develop some hobbies as playing football on decent 4G pitches can be really cheap if you find a friendly bunch of guys to play with regularly. You really don't have to spend much in Bangkok or Thailand to have fun, but I guess that depends on what you're into.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Probably around 40,000. I worked in Thailand nearly 10 years ago as a TEFL teacher, which was fine, but I could rarely save any money and was living pay check to pay check. The best investment you could make here is to do one of these new QTS qualifications that can be done based in Thailand or something similar.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Rob. A few teachers have said to me on social media that these surveys where teachers are earning north of 100K per month are just not reflective of the jobs and salaries posted on Ajarn. My answer is that they don't need to be. This cost of living section simply shows what some teachers can and do earn in Thailand. Rob was once a 40,000 baht a month teacher but he studied for better qualifications and secured himself a better job. Isn't this something for 40K a month teachers to aim for?  


Stewart

Working in Central Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 200,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

My salary is 149,000 per month and the housing allowance is 52,000 per month, so the total is just over 200,000 pre-tax. Each year I am also paid a 10% bonus from my employer.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

After tax and housing, I am left with around 125,000 and I can usually save around 85,000 per month but slightly more during Covid. 10% of my monthly salary goes into a provident fund in Thailand. This comes out pre-tax and is managed by an investment fund. It saves me a little on tax each month. The rest of my monthly savings goes into my Thai savings account which I tranfer back to my home country each year.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a condo in Thonglor and pay 45,000 for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 145 square meter unit. It is in an older building but the unit itself has been completely remodelled and renovated to a European standard. There are all of the usual amenities such as swimming pool, gym, games room, etc.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I have an old scooter and I spend around 300 baht per month on fuel. This is only really used to get to work and back.

Utility bills

Electricity - 2,000 baht
Internet and sim card - 900 baht
Water - 100 baht
Cleaner - 2,000 baht
Netflix & Spotify - 400 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I tend to cook from Monday to Thursday and eat out from Friday to Sunday. Supermarket shopping is around 1,000 per week. Eating out comes to probably around 10,000 per month.

Nightlife and drinking

Pre-covid I would go out quite a lot but this is limited at the moment and saves quite a bit of cash. At the moment, most nightlife involves going to friends houses for drinks but I rarely drink midweek due to starting work early and finishing late each day.

Books, computers

Very little, but I will usually buy a number of books each year at the Neilson Hays Library book fayres.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Excellent. I earn a similar amount to what I did in the UK but the benefits such as housing, flight allowances, medical insurance and a substantial bonus means money goes much further in Bangkok.

I can travel, eat out and attend events without worrying about money and am lucky enough to be in this position. Thailand is a great place to work if you have the relevant experience, education and qualifications and can lead to a fantastic standard of living.

I also enjoy the social aspect of life in the city with regular events at the British Club and various balls throughout the year.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Transport is very good value, compared to the UK. Taxis are cheap. I'm not a huge Thai food fan but but that can be very cheap as well.

Holidays in Thailand can also be great value with some great deals at the moment due to the current situation. Flights abroad are also usually excellent value due to the number of options at Suvarnabhumi.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

To survive, if your employer pays your housing then not a huge amount as that is usually the biggest cost. Possibly around 35,000 but it wouldn't be a great standard of living. However, Bangkok can be as cheap or as expensive as you would like it to be.

I certainly wouldn't think about moving to the city for less than what the same job would be paid in the UK. Bangkok is as expensive as anywhere in the UK except London and the South East.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Stewart. So this is one of those teacher packages where you have to spend the 52,000 baht housing allowance. You can't find somewhere nice to rent for let's say 25,000, and pocket the remaining 27K. Shame that because although I'm sure your condo is amazing, you could probably manage a downgrade and be quids in. I'm surprised your water bill is as low as 100 baht though in such a swanky place. Needless to say, it sounds like you have a great standard of living. 


Erik

Working in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Monthly Earnings 40,600 (after tax)

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

All of my income comes directly from my full-time teaching salary. I don't do any extra classes or after school tutoring. While that is a great way to make extra cash, the students already have an immense amount of schoolwork. Between their English classes, Thai classes, after school lessons and other extracurriculars, I believe the students should spend less time studying.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Typically between 10-15k a month depending on the month. It is entirely possible to save more money in Nakhon every month, but I like to spend a fair bit of free time socializing and spending weekends at the beach in Khanom or on trips to the islands.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a shared house with friends. We each pay 2,500 per month. It is nice having a house compared to an apartment or condo because we are able to have a little yard with barbecue space.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I bought a motorbike when I arrived for 6,000. It's an older bike with an out-of-date green book but it gets me from A to B. It would be fairly difficult to get around the city without one. There are a few places you can rent bikes monthly from between 1.500-2.000 a month. There are songtaews, taxis, and Grab. However, with Grab, it can be difficult to find a ride sometimes at night. I would say I pay between 1-2K a month on petrol and general bike maintenance.

Utility bills

We take turns paying for the internet, which is around 400 a month. Our electric bill ranges between 250-500 baht a person depending on the month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Nakhon has everything you need as far as supermarket shopping is concerned. There is a Big C, Tesco, Robinsons and Central Plaza, as well as Thai markets throughout the city. As in any Thai city, the food here is wonderful and fairly cheap. There are also a wide variety of Western options from pizza, KFC, Macdonalds and also Middle Eastern and Indian options that are much pricier than Thai options. I'd say my food budget ranges from between 5-7K a month depending on the month.

Nightlife and drinking

I moved into Nakhon during the Covid shutdown so I haven't been able to experience a ton of the nightlife that Nakhon has to offer. There is a big group of expats that live in the town so there is always something going on like football, ultimate frisbee and trips to the surrounding waterfalls. Sad to say that the thing I spend the most on is having a few beers with friends at their houses or up at the beach.

Books, computers

This is something I don't spend any money on as I already own my computer. There is a book club/share in town where people trade books they read back and forth between each other at no cost.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

You can live a very good life and have a great time in Nakhon on a standard teaching salary.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

The obvious answer in the incredible Thai food. You can eat just about any Thai dish for under 100 Baht.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

It all depends on your lifestyle and what luxuries you wish to have. You can live very comfortably here for around 30-35K a month. Nakhon is really a hidden gem of the south. It's only about 1.5 hour motorbike drive to get to amazing beaches such as Sichon, Loma and Khanom, and you can make it to Samui, KPH and Koh Tao within four hours - including ferry time.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Erik. That's one very positive cost of living survey and it sounds like you really enjoy life. Nakhon Si Thammarat seems like a great place to live and work and as you say, a salary of around 40,000 baht is enough to enjoy all it has to offer, whether it's eating out, zipping around on your motorcycle or enjoying a few drinks with friends.   


Hazel

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 110,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I make around 97K after tax and while we have been working online, I've taken some extra online tutoring and also tutoring one student at home.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I put around 13K in a retirement investment each month, and I also try to put away between 30K and 40K each month into a Thai savings account.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I share a condo with my partner. The rent is 22K per month but I pay 15K of that amount.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I recently bought a secondhand car, but I'm not doing much driving, so maybe 1,000 baht per month.

Utility bills

My internet (399), water (120) and phone bill (375) and electric (2000ish) usually come to around 3,000 baht depending on how much I'm running the air con.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000 baht, could be less but I love a takeaway, especially during lockdown!

Nightlife and drinking

None existent recently, maybe 1,000 baht on a box of Big C wine! Before lockdown, it would be more like 5K per month.

Books, computers

I have a friend who shares kindle books with me online, so no costs at all. However, a huge cost for me is my online spending habit (Lazada, Ali express and Shien) Maybe 10,000 a month on online spending.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I think my standard of living is really good. I've been in Bangkok for around 7 years and I really love it. I live in a great area, have lots of great friends and even in lockdown, there's always something to do in Bangkok.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food! Not just Thai street food but I use Happy Grocer on Grab Mart and you can get a whole weeks worth of vegetables for 300 Baht in their surplus box. It's all packaged in recycled materials and plastic free, and more than two people can eat in a week.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I think Bangkok is a city where you can live on as little or as much as you like. Saying that I think anything less than 50K would be a struggle and wouldn't allow you to save for your future.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Hazel. I'm guessing you must work at a fairly good international school to pull in such a decent salary. That's a good idea to put some money away in a retirement fund. You might want to look around at some Thai investments as well with that 30-40K you have spare each month. There are some great Thai investments out there (mutual funds, etc) if you can latch on to someone who knows what they're doing and will look after your money with minimal risk. I'm hopeless at this sort of thing but fortunately I'm married to someone who's a bit of a financial wizard and she's done OK with what money I've given her to invest. This year has been fantastic - north of 10-15% in fact.  


Sean

Working in Lopburi

Monthly Earnings 36,500 baht

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

My full-time salary per month is 37,000 baht but after tax it comes to 36,500.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I started this job in September 2020 and at first, I didn’t really save too much, maybe 5,000 baht a month until February 2021 - and if I had any other money left over that was a bonus. From February to now, I have been able to save 15,000 - 20,000 baht a month, which is a big difference.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

Accommodation is 3,300 baht a month and with water and electric it works out to no more than 4,200 a month including using the AC. The room is basic, I have a bathroom, a large balcony and a lovely view of the school when I open my door. I live in an apartment opposite school so it's easy to walk to.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

Transport here is so cheap. if I venture into the old town, it costs me 8 baht using the songthaew. I don’t have a scooter but it would help so much as the public transport in Lopburi seems to stop running after 7-8pm but you still see the odd songthaew driving around so you can flag them down. Motorbike taxis from the old town back to my room cost about 50-60 baht.

Utility bills

Electric and water come to around 900 baht, phone, AIS unlimited internet with fast speeds adds another 450 baht. I use my hot spot mostly as the wifi is very poor at the apartment. A True premier league package is another 299 baht per month and it’s great watching the football in HD. I use Netflix but that payment comes from my English bank account so not sure about the price - maybe 500 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is cheap here like most places in Thailand but sometimes it’s so easy to buy Western food using delivery services like Food Panda. I live on krapow, which costs 55 baht and Thai tea. I don’t really eat much and that’s surprising as most people like to spend a lot of money on food. Supermarkets are the same, I don’t really buy a lot of things. I try to do a 'big shop' after every pay day and if I see anything else I need I will buy it. I think I could spend about 5,000-6,000 a month on both restaurant food and supermarket shopping.

Nightlife and drinking

If I could add up all the money I have spent on beer and whiskey since being here, I could cry. In Lopburi there weren't many places to drink even before Covid came along and most places are hard to reach if you don’t have a motorbike or car. It’s easy to go to 7/11 and Big C to buy beers and while the price is cheap, it adds up fast. I like to drink beer so I don’t mind spending money on it but I always know when to stop. Since Covid, everywhere is closed so I have managed to save so much money and slowly starting to ease off on the drinking sessions - but I don’t mind drinking in my room while watching a TV series or playing on the PlayStation.

Books, computers

I don’t pay for either. I brought my laptop and an iPad from home. I don’t use books much, only the books I get from school to write lesson plans.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My life is good in Lopburi. I never have to worry about money each month as I am good at saving and since Covid, I have saved a lot for when the country slowly opens again.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food and public transport

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I see this question a lot but I don’t think there is a correct answer because it depends on your lifestyle. I would like more money as would everyone else, but I think in this province, 36,000 is enough to live a good life.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Sean. It's always good to hear from teachers living and working in rural towns and cities, where according to many, money goes much further than it would in a big city like Bangkok. It certainly sounds like you do OK on 36,000 a month and manage to save a reasonable amount as well. Living opposite the school saves you money and more importantly, time. Are there any downsides to living so close though?   


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 370 total

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